Cyrus Carpenter Yawkey and Aytchmonde Perrin Woodson Papers, 1887-1957


Cyrus Carpenter (C.C.) Yawkey, Wausau lumberman and paper mill executive, was born in Chicago on August 29, 1862. His mother, Mary Uliaetta Carpenter, was a descendant of William Carpenter, one of the first settlers of Rehoboth, Massachusetts. The Yawkey family numbered many lumbermen among its members, including John Hoover Yawkey, grandfather of Cyrus, who owned sawmills and lumberyards in Massillon, Ohio, and in Flint, Saginaw, and Bay City, Michigan. His son, Samuel W. Yawkey (Cyrus's father), was associated with him in business in Michigan until 1857, then worked in Chicago until 1863 when he returned to the family business in Saginaw.

Cyrus Yawkey got his start in business in 1881 after his graduation from East Saginaw, Michigan, public schools and from Michigan Military Academy in Orchard Lake. For two years he clerked in a hardware store, and in 1883 he began his own firm, Yawkey and Corbyn, which he continued for five years. Yawkey traveled to the Hazelhurst, Wisconsin, area in 1889, with his uncle, William C. Yawkey, and George W. Lee, where sites for saw and planing mills and a box factory were selected. Their company, Yawkey and Lee Lumber Company, was in business until 1893, when it was succeeded by Yawkey Lumber Company, with C.C. Yawkey as its treasurer, general manager, and later, president. Yawkey purchased huge timber tracts in Wisconsin, and in southern and western Oregon, conducted logging operations, and manufactured and sold lumber. Three years later the Hazelhurst and South Eastern Railway Company was incorporated with Yawkey as president, and a road was built to connect the Chicago, Minneapolis, St. Paul and Pacific line with the Chicago and Northwestern at Hazelhurst Junction.

Yawkey moved to Wausau in 1899, and made that city the base of all future business enterprises. With a number of Wausau business executives, Yawkey organized or invested in numerous other companies. This “Wausau Group,” as it was loosely formed and termed, also included Walter, Judd S., John, and Ben Alexander; Margaret G. Stewart; D.C. Everest; Schuyler B., J.M., and W.H. Bissell; and Aytchmonde P. Woodson. This group and its members held interests in land and real estate companies, utilities and power companies, oil and gas exploration firms, newspapers, insurance and finance companies, and mining operations throughout the country. As lumbering in Wisconsin declined in importance after 1890, these investors successfully moved to enterprises in other states and Canada, including Arizona, Arkansas, British Columbia, California, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New York, North Dakota, Ontario, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, and West Virginia.

In addition to his many business enterprises, Yawkey's interests included politics, and civic and social organizations. He was a member of the Republican Party, and served as chairman, Oneida County Board of Supervisors (1891-1893), and as Assembly representative for Oneida, Price, Vilas and Taylor Counties (1895-1896). As a young man, Yawkey was an officer in both the Michigan National Guard and the Wisconsin National Guard and was vice-chairman of the Marathon County Council of Defense during World War I. Other groups in which Yawkey was active were the Marathon County Red Cross and Liberty Loan drives, First Universalist Church, Boy Scouts (on the national level), and the Wausau and U.S. Chambers of Commerce. He was a member of the Wausau Club, Wausau Country Club, and Rotary Club. Yawkey's activities as president of the Marathon County Park Commission, and in the development of the Rib Mountain area, reveal his interests in parks and recreational facilities.

On October 13, 1887, Yawkey and Alice M. Richardson (d. 1953) were married in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Their daughter, Leigh (1888-1963), was educated in Wausau schools and graduated in 1908 from Ogontz School in Philadelphia. She married Aytchmonde P. (A.P.) Woodson, son of Judge Stephen C. Woodson of Kansas City, Missouri, on August 15, 1911. The couple had four children, Cyrus Yawkey (who committed suicide in 1934), Nancy Leigh (Mrs. Lyman J. Spire), Alice Richardson (Mrs. Robert S. Hagge), and Margaret Perrin (Mrs. Frederick W. Fisher). After his marriage, Woodson joined his father-in-law's business as a trusted junior executive. Although both men were members of the “Wausau Group,” Woodson also interested himself in a few firms outside of Yawkey's holdings. Leigh Yawkey Woodson was active in Wausau social and civic organizations; among these were the Woodson YWCA, Marathon County Historical Society, Wausau Memorial Hospital, First Universalist Church, various women's clubs, the DAR, Wisconsin Society of Mayflower Descendants, and Massachusetts Society of the Colonial Dames of America. After her husband's death in 1958, she directed the work of the Aytchmonde P. Woodson Foundation, Inc.

The companies in which Yawkey held major interests include the following:

  • Alexander-Stewart Lumber Company, Wausau, Wisconsin (organized 1884)
  • Alexander-Yawkey Lumber Company, Prineville, Oregon
  • American National Bank, Wausau, Wisconsin (and its successor, First American State Bank; he was president of both)
  • B. C. Spruce Mills Company, Ltd., Lumberton, British Columbia (director)
  • Cisco Lake Lumber Company, Wausau, Wisconsin
  • C. Francis Colman Company, Duluth, Minnesota (real estate; successor to Wisconsin Timber Company, organized by C.C. Yawkey) (treasurer)
  • Copper District Power Company, Ontonagon, Michigan
  • Eagle Lake Spruce Mills, Ltd., Giscome, British Columbia
  • Employers Mutual Insurance Company, Wausau, Wisconsin (director)
  • McCloud River Lumber Company, McCloud, California (director)
  • Marathon Electric Manufacturing Company, Wausau, Wisconsin
  • Marathon Lumber Company, Wausau and Laurel, Mississippi (vice-president)
  • Marathon Paper Mills Company, Rothschild, Wisconsin (founder, 1909; president, 1909-1938)
  • Marshall and Ilsley Bank, Milwaukee, Wisconsin (director)
  • Masonite Corporation, Wausau, Wisconsin and Laurel, Mississippi (formerly Mason Fibre Company; director)
  • Minnesota Utilities Company (founder, 1919; vice-president, president; in 1922 sold to American Power and Light Company)
  • Minocqua Lumber Company, Minocqua, Wisconsin (president, director)
  • Montana-Dakota Utilities Company (successor to Eastern Montana Utilities Company and Minnesota Northern Power Company; president)
  • Mosinee Paper Mills Company, Mosinee, Wisconsin
  • Nomo Oil Company, Mt. Carmel, Illinois
  • Ontonagon Fibre Corporation, Ontonagon, Michigan (later Ontonagon Paper Board Company; vice-president, director)
  • Owen-Oregon Lumber Company, Medford, Oregon
  • Silver Falls Timber Company, Silverton, Oregon (director)
  • Tomahawk Kraft Paper Company, Tomahawk, Wisconsin (director)
  • Vilas-Gogebic Company, Merrill, Wisconsin
  • Wausau Paper Mills Company, Brokaw, Wisconsin (director)
  • Wausau Southern Lumber Company, Wausau, Wisconsin and Laurel, Mississippi (vice-president)
  • Wausau Street Railway Company, Wausau, Wisconsin (later Wisconsin Valley Electric Company, then Wisconsin Public Service Corporation; founder, 1906; vice-president, president)
  • Western Exploration Company, British Columbia (director)
  • Wisconsin and Arkansas Lumber Company, Malvern, Arkansas (predecessor, Arkansas Land and Lumber Company; president)
  • Yawkey-Alexander Lumber Company, Prineville, Oregon
  • Yawkey-Bissell Lumber Company, Hazelhurst, Arbor Vitae, and White Lake, Wisconsin (president)
  • Yawkey-Crowley Lumber Company, Madison, Wisconsin